LAKE CHARLES — A ribbon cutting ceremony, held at the Chennault Industrial Airport Tuesday, marked completion of the rehabilitation of the airport’s runway, lighting, and taxiway.
Gov. John Bel Edwards, Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson, Chennault administrators, and elected officials spoke to a crowd, gathered under a tent adjacent to the runway.
Andy Hankins, president of Chennault Industrial Airport Authority, said the rehabilitation project is part of the Authority’s larger vision, “to create jobs by finding the right fit for business and industry to land at Chennault, and be a catalyst for economic development in the aviation and aerospace industry.
“The long-term vision of Chennault is to be a regional hub for our general aviation industry and a worldwide leader in aviation,” he said.
The main runway measures 10,700 feet, 17 inches thick and 200 feet wide. The repair and reconstruction took more than five years in planning and execution and cost around $5.2 million. It was primarily funded by the Federal Aviation Administration with support from the state’s Department of Transportation and Development.
The runway had not had any major repairs since 1986. Also complete is the installation of LED lighting, jointly funded by the DOTD and Chennault, the installation of a 300-foot blast pad and the replacement of the runway’s joint seals.
“Chennault is the place to land,” said Hankins. “Whether you’re flying a Cessna 172 training plane, a single-seat jet, or an Airbus 340.”
Gov. Edwards said the project makes Chennault, “one of the foremost industrial airports in the country.
“This is one of the longest between Bush (Intercontinental Airport), in Houston, and Kennedy (Airport), in New York.” He said Site Selection Magazine recently named Louisiana No. 2 in the country in making strategic transportation infrastructure investments that lead to economic impact and job creation.
“That’s what this is about,” Edwards said. “We didn’t just extend the life of the runway, we made it safer, we put signage with new lighting. This is how you invest dollars to have a big impact going forward.”
LED Secretary Pierson said aviation/aerospace is a $240 billion industry and offers a lot of room for the state to grow. He said several of the global leaders in aerospace and aviation already operate in the Louisiana. Chennault’s rehabilitation has opened the door to potential business, military and industrial clients. That coupled with the $120 billion “either on the ground or being constructed” in Southwest Louisiana has left people here with big smiles on their faces.”
“It’s a great asset,” Pierson said.